Post-Post-Horror

Apparently LampLight has been post-horror for five years now… you’re welcome.

Snark aside, I think this article by Douglas Winter, will offer more insight into how this discussion even started.

Remember, outside of the small press / con scene, horror exists as a different animal. People wrote it off about the time the 7th Friday the 13th movie came out, and have imagined it has remained, unchanged, since then.

Even though that kind of story never represented the genre as a whole, in either film or page.

This is the exact reason I started LampLight. It is the exact audience I am hoping to reach. People who love this stuff, but don’t think it even exists. People who marketing uses ‘thriller’ or ‘suspense’ to reach, and the writers use the word ‘horror’ to describe.

Quiet horror. Post horror. Dark fiction. Dark fantasy. Supernatural thriller. Marketing words. And no, marketing words do not define the genre… but they can define the audience, and there in lies the post-horror discussion.

Proper Manuscript Form 2.0

Jacob Haddon
email@address
Approximately 650 Words

Proper Manuscript Form 2.0

by Jacob Haddon

In this day and digital age it may seem odd to format your submission in a particular way, but yet over and over it is requested.

William Shunn (shunn.net) has, perhaps, the most famous resource online for formatting. However, it is written for paper submissions. This is an attempt to update it for the more digital world.

Despite the fact that your story will be read online, it is important to remember that it will still be read by a human. We hold the computer / tablet further from our face than we would a book, and as such, your font choice and size should reflect this.

Courier is still the font of choice for this, for all the reasons Shunn mentions. It is easy to read, makes things clear, and, from experience, doesn’t strain the eyes as much as proportional fonts.

Because of distance to the screen, you should make it at least 12 pt. Double space your lines. Either double space between paragraphs, or indent them, but make sure paragraph delineation is consistent and clear. Left align your file, rather than use justification. This is for ease of reading, and really, you want to make your submission as easy to read as possible.

It is preferred you do not use italics, but rather underline. Why? again, readability. Not only for the first time through, but if your story is chosen, it is easier to see underlines to reference the document with the production layout than it is to see italics.

Remember, you are not formatting for layout–that is the job of the publisher. This formatting is designed to make it as easy and clear as possible for the content and layout editors.

Despite the digital submission, we still have ‘pages’ in word processor documents. Keep them about normal, so letter or A4 depending on what suits you best. Use 1 inch margins all around. This is probably the default setup when you start your word processor.

Shunn talks specifics about headers, but don’t bother with them. Headers are best for print submissions in case the pages get separated, but that is not going to be the case in this situation.

Let’s talk the about the first page.

Put your name on it. Just like grade school, put your name right at the top. Do not trust that the file will be kept with the email / submission website / etc, it was sent with. This is to be your legal name.

Under your name, put your email address. Under that an approximate word count. Rounded to the nearest hundred is usually fine, though if it is a flash piece, the exact number of words is probably better.

There will be some publications that ask for blind submissions (no information in the file), for these, exclude these bits, but make sure you include the title of your story and the file name in your cover letter.

Put the title next, center it. Under the title, put your byline. This is how you want your name to appear in print.

Give a space, then your story.

If you have section breaks, again go for consistent and clear delineations. An extra space can sometimes be lost in a page break, so an actual marker is better. I use “* * *”, for example. The singular “#” is also a common choice.

And now your story is ready for reading. Good luck! For reference, here is the original Shunn article: shunn.net/format/story.html

This post is from: jacobhaddon.com

TL:DR

Formatting:

  • Use Courier (or Courier New), 12pt
  • Double space lines
  • Either double space or indent paragraphs, be clear and consistent
  • Standard page size, 1 inch margins
  • No page headers
  • Use underlines instead of italics

Front page:

  • Name, Legal
  • email
  • number of words (approximately)
  • Title
  • Name, Byline

One Problem Too Many

Ok, writers, let’s talk about “one problem too many”

In this, the writer has set the stakes, usually pretty high, say, “the world will end if this McGuffin doesn’t get put in the right spot”

That’s a pretty big problem. So we go along, watching our heroes work to overcome this. Inevitably, though, I’ve seen the “one problem too many” problem.

Which needs a better name.

The point of this new found problem is to increase tension, raise the stakes… but the stakes are already raised. You already have the world at stake.

To give an example, hopefully spoiler free, both Sunshine and Interstellar do this, and in the book, The Martian, it comes pretty close. The problems in Sunshine and Interstellar are high, impossibly high. And yet the movie still devolves into stacking additional little problems, which nearly overshadow the purpose.

This is not to say that you should make it easy for everyone. But rather that once you start stacking impossible problems on top of each other, the point where overcoming them is believable is left behind pretty quickly.

An example: Armageddon (yes the movie). They go to Mir to get gas, no big deal, meet the Russian, and then before we know it, it is a crisis and the station explodes.

Because the on-coming Texas sized asteroid isn’t enough.

Then one of the crew goes space crazy, or whatever, and starts to shoot the machine gun, which I’m still not sure why is there, and they have to duct tape him to a chair.

Because the on-coming Texas sized asteroid isn’t enough.

Then there are problems with the drilling, but that devolves into the group dividing in two and fighting over how they should proceed.

This. This is fine, this is the right kind of problem escalation. This is related to the on-coming Texas sized asteroid.

Then! at the end, someone has to stay, sentimental scene, the others take off, but NO, THAT ISN’T ENOUGH. The ground shakes, he loses the thing, it goes to the last second…

Because the on-coming TEXAS SIZED ASTEROID ISN’T ENOUGH.

So, when you are looking at your scope, think of your problems. The Texas sized asteroid was enough. It was always enough.

To counter, think of Star Wars. The Death Star is there, coming to destroy the base on Yavin. The base is in orbit, and once it is in line, the base will be destroyed. As the fighters get in close, the Empire launches fighters, one of which is Darth Vader himself.

Vader, however, is not one problem too many. He is simply an extension of the station defenses that have been plaguing the fighters. The problem is the Death Star.

There are not sudden betrayals, random broken parts, ship crippling solar flares, or the like to cloud things.

When you think about your climax, your overall plot structure, when you think about everything, make sure you aren’t stacking too many things on top of each other.